Google's virtual museum offers all Vermeer paintings in an AR gallery

Google has added a new Pocket Gallery feature to its Google Arts & Culture app, enabling users to view all of the artist Vermeer's artwork in the same place...virtually, that is. This provides the only way to view all 36 of Vermeer's paintings in the same gallery due to the theft of one nearly three decades ago.

The Dutch painter Vermeer is best known for his painting "Girl with a Pearl Earring," a famous portrait painted in 1665. The artist produced only 36 known paintings, another notable for a different reason: "The Concert" was stolen 28 years ago by a pair of thieves who posed as police officers.

The painting has never been recovered, and aside from that, Google points out that some of the remaining paintings are now too delicate to be shipped to different collections. All of Vermeer's work is spread through seven countries across 17 different collections, meaning the entire body of work can no longer be viewed in a single location.

Google's new Pocket Gallery changes that, in a way. The new features use augmented reality to present users with a virtual gallery containing all 36 paintings. The AR paintings are displayed hanging at true-to-life size and in perfect lighting, according to the company.

Users have the ability to view the paintings in "stunning detail," Google says. Expert stories are also part of the feature, each revealing things about Vermeer, his life, and his work. The Google Arts & Culture app, which contains the Pocket Gallery feature, is available to download on Android and iOS.